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Naughty domain names {and how not to get stuck with one}

by Helen Aldous

When you are thinking about starting to sell art online through your own artists website, one of the first things you need to consider is your domain name.

It is one of the elements of your artists website which requires the most careful thought and unfortunately somewhere that you can easily shoot yourself in the foot if you are not careful, often only discovering the problem further down the line when nobody can find you.

But don’t worry. Sticking to a few simple rules will ensure that you get the most out of your domain and website. Lets have a quick look at what it entails.

What is it?

Your domain name is the address you type into the address bar of your browser to call up your website. You can think of it as a signpost that points visitors to where your website is hosted. It will look something like www .johnsmithsculpture.com. It is an important part of your web presence and has implications for search engine optimisation. You can register your domain name before you have a website set up in order to secure it.

Why is it crucial to get it right?

Your domain name is a very important part of your personal brand. Pick the right one and it can enhance your professional appearance. Pick the wrong one and it can let down the side {see point 6 below ;-) }.

It also has a direct bearing on your e-mail address so picking the right domain enables you to set up a professional email address along the lines of enquiries@myname.com. This looks SO much better and more professional than  email addresses like sexybex75@yahoo2h5f.com,  again tying in with your personal brand and giving the right impression. I see a surprisingly large amount of artists undermining their hard work on marketing by giving out business cards with addresses like this. It is an important element of your whole professional package so well worth sorting out properly.

Careful choice of domain is also really important from a search engine point of view as a domain name containing your name and possibly a keyword about what you do can really help your site to appear well in search engine results. You want people to be able to find your work when they type in your name.

How to choose a good domain name

When you come to buying your own domain name there are quite a few things to consider before you lay down your money. Many domain names have already been registered so it can take a bit of trial and error to find a good combination that hasn’t already gone.

Google views domain names as being one of the most important elements of a website when deciding whereabouts in the search pages to rank it so its well worth spending a bit of time on getting a good combination. Spend time doing a bit of brainstorming to come up with different combinations that may work.

Some good points to bear in mind are:

1 Include your name in the domain.
Creating a domain including at least your last name and probably your first name too will help people find you more easily. I.e. www.johnsmith.com

2 Include a keyword relating to your work.
Even better, using a descriptive keyword in your domain, helps with searches for this subject. I.e.www.johnsmithsculpture.com

3 Don’t use hyphens.
It’s tempting to hyphenate your domain name as sometimes all combinations of words seem to have been already registered. If at all possible do try and avoid the use of hyphens though as it makes it well nigh impossible to tell anyone your domain name orally.

Imagine trying to tell someone your web address over the phone. “John hyphen smith hyphen sculpture dot com” just sounds really confusing. Use hyphens as a last resort only.

4 Keep it memorable.
Try and register a domain name that people can remember easily. To this end try to keep it short and to the point. www.pamalaspotterypigemporiumandartbarn.com probably wont work so well.

Also, if there are any common misspellings of your name it can be worth registering both variations in case people forget how to spell it.

5 Try and secure a dot com
If you can, try and secure the .com version of your domain name. You may want to register a few different variations of your domain name with different “Top Level Domain”s {Top Level Domains or TLD’s are the ending part of the domain address ie .com or .org etc} If possible avoid domains ending in the more obscure .info .tv and similar for your main domain name.

You may also want to register the TLD relevant to where you live {ie .co.uk if you live in the UK. .fr for France etc} You can use the .com as your main domain and point the others to your site too.

6 Consider your choice of words carefully.
Some combinations of words, when put together, create an unforseen comedy domain name. Consider the humorous joys of the following real domain names and carefully check any domain name combinations you come up with.

www.powergenitalia.com {Italian Power Company}
www.penisland.net {Pen company}
www.speedofart.com {Designers}

Yes, they are all real! ;-)

Checking if your chosen domain is available

Once you have some ideas, you need to check if they are available to register. Go to a domain registration site such as www.names.co.uk or 123-reg.co.uk and enter your desired domain name in their website checker box to see what is available. You don’t have to register your domain there if you don’t want but you will be able to find out of the domain is available for purchase.

Registering your domain

There are an almost infinite number of companies on the internet offering domain registration. It makes life easier to have your domain registered at the same place as your hosting so take a look at the domain registration services offered by your hosting company if you have one.

If you want to register the domain separately {for example, if you want to secure it before hosting or your website is set up} try www.lcn.com or www.names.co.uk

If you are using an artists website building service they will generally be able to look after the registration for you and ensure it is set up correctly to point to your website. This again is a good option as it keeps everything in the same place and allows someone else to deal with the technical side of things. Just make sure you can keep the domain name should you ever want to move to a different service.

All done

Sorting out your domain name can look like a daunting process but the steps above should enable you to choose and register a domain with reasonably little pain. Go and make sure you have secured your personal domain name as soon as you can. You don’t want to discover that someone else has registered www.yourname.com when you come to set up your artists website.

Please share any problems you have had with registering domains in the comments. Have you secured your personal name domain yet?

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Kristen June 17, 2012 at 11:04 pm

Hate to break it to you, but I seriously doubt that Pen Island is a pen company. Sounds much more like a gag website. ;) It’s pretty apparent in their language.

“Don’t be ashamed if all you want is a normal skinny white pen, they get the job done and they are infact our biggest seller! Conversely, there is no reason to be shy about your Pen Island needs. We’ve done it all. Wrapped in leather, little pink bows, we’ve even done pens dipped in chocolate!”

“Just tell us a little bit about the size, color, texture, and taste of the pen you’re looking for, and we’ll see what can do. You’ll be surprised at what’s available. “

Reply

Helen Aldous June 18, 2012 at 10:26 am

LOL.. ;-) It’s a good name though ;-)

Reply

Jonathan Firth May 25, 2011 at 4:02 pm

Useful post, thanks!
Can I also suggest http://namechk.com/ – a useful tool to see if any username/url is available on loads of domains and social media.

Reply

Helen Aldous May 25, 2011 at 5:27 pm

Thanks Jonathan. I hadnt heard of namechk.com but just tried it. Wow, How handy is that! Thanks.

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Shalon Sims February 18, 2011 at 6:42 pm

This is a very handy blog piece, thanks for your work. But, please take godaddy off your blog and put up another option (there are literally millions of domain searchers). Godaddy features naked women as it’s primary source of ads. Here is a blog piece about this exact issue: http://www.yoladies.com/tech/2011/02/you-dont-have-to-use-godaddy.html

Reply

Helen Aldous February 18, 2011 at 7:56 pm

Hi Shalon

Big thanks for pointing this out. Being UK based I haven’t seen the tv ads but have just looked at the ads on their website and see what you mean!!. Thanks. There are lots of other options as you say. Thanks for the link and bringing this to my attention.

Reply

Monette Satterfield February 17, 2011 at 8:07 pm

I can only find one (extremely sophomoric) thing to add since you were so thorough – another bad choice of words when spelled out :)

http://www.whorepresents.com (celebrity agents)

Sorry for the naughtiness :)
Monette Satterfield recently posted..Cash Flow- One Simple Thing

Reply

Helen Aldous February 17, 2011 at 9:32 pm

LOL. I love that one ;-)

Reply

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